When pharmacist Erin Beresford works with patients to treat a serious condition known as venous thromboembolism (VTE) in her practice at the Health Sciences Centre in John’s, she draws on knowledge gained from her most recent course in pharmaceutical care.
“It was so innovative and although it was online, we were constantly interacting with our peers through video presentations, group discussions and group projects,” said Ms. Beresford, a School of Pharmacy alumna and part-time student in the school’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) for working professionals program (WPPD).
“This helped foster a sense of community among our classmates, which I never expected from an online course.”
So it comes as no surprise to her that course designers from the School of Pharmacy and the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) have been singled out for the second consecutive year with a 2020 Award of Merit from the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education.
“It’s a resounding endorsement of their hard work, dedication and creativity,” said Dr. Shawn Bugden, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Memorial’s award-winning WPPD program provides the advanced-level education that pharmacists need as they practise in an increasingly complex health-care system.”
This most recent award recognizes instructional design innovation in PHAR 5901: Pharmaceutical Care I.
It’s the first in a series of five pharmaceutical care courses requiring integration and application of knowledge to the management of disease. Pharmacists need to know where medication therapy fits in the patient care process; sometimes medications are needed, many times they can be de-prescribed.
“One aspect of the course that stands out to me is that heart failure was taught through a live online discussion of a patient case,” said Ms. Beresford.
“This format kept me engaged in the material, helped me feel more connected to my peers despite the online format and allowed the instructors to provide great insights from their own experience.”
Excellence and innovation
The submission, Active Engagement and Authentic Case-Based Learning Using an Integrated Backward Design for Course Development in a Doctor of Pharmacy for Working Professionals Online Program, was praised for excellence and innovation in instructional design.
“It’s an honour to receive this award as it celebrates and exemplifies collaboration and innovation in online learning and instructional design,” said Dr. Tiffany Lee, program development lead for the WPPD program. “It celebrates the unity of bright minds.”
Team members include, from the School of Pharmacy, Dr. Tiffany Lee, Karina Arnold, Dr. Stephanie Young, Dr. Stephen Coombs, Dr. Kristi Parmiter, Travis Warner and Dr. Debbie Kelly. CITL team members include Lisa St. Croix, Cathy Wicks, Dallas Clairmont, John Bonnell, Paul Hayward, Benji Kean, Mark Shallow, Phillip Cairns and Benjy Smith.
“When developing the course, we used backward design,” said Ms. St. Croix, senior instructional designer with CITL.
“Backward design allows us to plan, integrate and align the main components of the course, such as learning outcomes, feedback and assessment, and teaching and learning activities, before developing the course content.
“Essentially we planned where we wanted to go with the course first, which allowed us to develop the content more efficiently,” she added.
History of collaboration
No strangers to collaboration, many on the Pharmacy-CITL team have been working together for the past couple of years on development of the WPPD program, an option that allows practising pharmacists to achieve their PharmD credential.
The team’s 2019 award of merit was for a series of animated videos created to explain pharmacokinetics, the branch of pharmacology concerned with the movement of drugs in the body.
To meet the needs of students – a diverse group of part-time learners who work as pharmacists across the country – the team had to develop meaningful, active learning experiences using technology to create group-based and individual activities and assignments, discussion groups, interactive videos and more.
Pharmacy education in Canada has changed significantly in recent years, with a move to the PharmD program to reflect an increasingly complex health-care system where graduates need advanced knowledge and skills, such as physical assessments, and ordering and interpreting laboratory tests.